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Thought Police



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By Geoff Metcalf

March 7, 2006

�Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.� --Salman Rushdie

Arapahoe County Denver is apparently suffering from a terminal case of political correctness. This particular government dysfunction is a mental health challenge, which had reached epidemic proportions, usually in those states identified as being �blue.� It is direct product of misguided �group think� and has generally been evidenced in the northeast, west coast, and large urban centers.

Apparently (in Denver) the fact that a veteran Public Works employee has signage on his private vehicle promoting the fact he offers �Lawn Services Done with Pride!! By an English Speaking American.� qualifies him as being morally reprehensible and deserving to be fired. BULLFEATHERS!

The victim of this bureaucratic brain flatulence is Mike Gray, a 16-year heavy equipment operator with the Arapahoe County Road and Bridge Department.

The county has their panties in a wad over Mike�s sign. His county boss claims the sign is �offensive� and they are accusing him of �discrimination and harassment�?

The county has every right to make demands of employees on the job. If they don�t like him wearing a Border Patrol Hat, they can make him stop. If they object to his promoting his lawn service business during his county shift, they can restrict him from that too.

However, the problem here is systemic with the �discrimination and harassment� of the county�not a part time lawn barber.

Various government agencies promote the fact they offer services in numerous languages (Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, Mong, etc.). Some public schools brag about offering instruction in as many as nine languages through aids. The effort to �reach out� to non-English speaking consumers is routine, chronic and encouraged. Lord have mercy on the poor dumb s.o.b. who actually suggests immigrants �learn the language��

Gray correctly observes �There are a lot of people in lawn service that are non-English speaking��Hell-o! Grays says �customers and different people were telling me that they have a hard time trying to communicate with them about work they want done on their property.�

Regardless of the talent, skills or ability of the lawn care worker (or frankly anyone who must interact with a public) the ability to communicate is essential.

How come it is acceptable to promote a �mulching lawnmower� but not fluency in the official language?

Gray also suffered the ire of his employers for having worn a hat, which was a gift from his son that was, imprinted �U.S. Border Patrol�.

Baseball caps and T-shirts have become, through common practice, a means of communicating everything from philosophy, to membership, to off color jokes.

Frankly, if an employer chooses to restrict these personal walking message boards of employees, that is cool.

However, if they DO embrace such a policy they had better not allow it to be arbitrary or capricious.

  • Get rid of those union caps
  • And political slogans
  • Eliminate any reference to children�s academic prowess or high schools
  • (which might offend families from rival schools).

Gray�s boss wrote his snotty note stating, �Some of your conduct�is reprehensible and discriminatory to our non-English speaking and/or Hispanic workforce. You are in violation of�guidelines which ensure a workplace free from harassment and sensitive to the diversity of employees.� As John Stossel would say, �Give me a break!�

Recommendations for Mike Gray:

  • Continue to comply with county request to lose the cap from the workplace.
  • Make a record of any and all hats or T-shirts that display ANY sentiment, affiliation or �message�.
  • Canvas the parking lot for bumper stickers you may find offensive (Kerry for President, Spotted Owl, Impeach Bush etc.)
  • Lodge an official complaint with your supervisor for his having established a workplace, which you find harassing and insensitive.

Gray doesn�t want to lose his job, but he�s got his hair up over the p.c.-agenda of his boss. He says, �They�re just chipping away at our rights and freedoms�. He doesn�t wear the hat anymore and he has covered �part� of his lawn service sign at work. Only the American flag and �English speaking American� are visible now. I confess to being a cultural anachronism, but I don�t think anyone should wear a cap that says Border Patrol, FBI, Pilot, Police Officer, or anything similar if the wearer is not a member of those groups�but hey, that�s just me. I know thousands of folks wear baseball caps in support of various teams they will never suit up for. I�ve seen a homeless panhandler wearing a �Harvard� T-shirt but for all I know maybe he DID attend Harvard.

Gray�s partial compliance apparently isn�t sufficient to satisfy his boss who wants him not only to eat excrement�but also acquire a taste for it. And so a labor-management Rubicon confronts adversaries.

Mike is flummoxed over being told to cover up his American flag sign? Which begs the question�are there any Mexican flags, Puerto Rican Flags, Italian Flags, Russian Flags, POW-MIA flags on any county employee vehicles? Does Arapahoe County intend to ban those flags?

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Apparently (in Denver) the fact that a veteran Public Works employee has signage on his private vehicle promoting the fact he offers �Lawn Services Done with Pride!! By an English Speaking America.� qualifies him as being morally reprehensible and deserving to be fired.